Carpe Diem Does Not Mean “Slack Off”

Dec 27, 2016 | Blog

Highly sensitive people are known to be industrious. Conscientious. Creative. Intuitive. Thoughtful. These are our strengths. At least – they can be.

But not everyone sees it that way.

Some of my friends look at the way I live and see a sad case. When I say that I am working three jobs, they say “wow…I couldn’t live that way.” Nevermind that I love each one. Nevermind that my jobs are flexible and make me feel fed. Nevermind the fact that living in the bay area is really f***ing expensive. 

They see my clunker of a truck and ask “why not get a better car? ” or my closet of worn clothing and ask “why not take yourself out to go shopping?” When I say it’s because I’m spending about 60 percent of my income to pay off student loan debt and save money, they balk. “But life is so short! You need to live for today!” Nevermind that I’m trying to save that money so that I can be debt free, develop passive income, and feel more at ease. Nevermind that I am a minimalist that doesn’t really need much. Nevermind that I want more than trinkets in this very “short life.” 

I know some folks that spend hours in their PJ’s on weekends. They laugh at sitcoms they enjoy. They go out. They kick back. They see me on the phone with a client or typing up emails for work on a Saturday and they say “Leah…you’ve gotta get out more and enjoy yourself. Life is so short! Carpe Diem!” Nevermind that I AM seizing the day. Nevermind that, in my mind, seizing the day means working hard to make a dream come true. Nevermind the fact that I DO get out. But I am simply more deliberate about how long I do so and with whom I spend my time.

And, of course, they see me meal prepping week after week. Day after day. They sigh and say “wow…that sure seems like a lot of work. Sometimes you have to go out and treat yourself!” Don’t even get me started on exercise. They see the time I carve out for it each day and say “Leah…an hour every day? That’s just too much. Carpe Diem!” Nevermind that eating junk makes me feel like shit and leaves me with less energy to do the things I love. Nevermind that exercise invigorates me. Nevermind that exercise and healthy food makes me feel better and that I believe I deserve better than cookies….

If I sound cranky…it’s because I am. A little. I’m getting a little tired of people who complain about their financial circumstances, complain about their lack of energy and complain about how “hard” it is to live in the bay area…and who then say “oh well! Let’s just forget about it all and have some fun!” and THEN report to me that doing so is “Seizing the day.”

I would like to raise an objection.

Since when is working hard, being conscientious, and living a deliberate life antonymic with “seizing the day?” Are you kidding me?

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that those who work, are happy, come home and don’t want more are not seizing the day. Not at all. Good for them! I’m just getting a little fed up with people telling me that my version is wrong.

In my mind, seizing the day also means seizing opportunities. And quite frankly, opportunities don’t just land on people’s doorsteps. I don’t care who you heard otherwise from. It’s bullshit.

“Oh but Wayne Dyer said to trust the universe…” Why, yes he did. You wanna know what Wayne Dyer also did? He published his first book. Only a few hundred were published. When he asked his publishers to do more, they said “well…you’ll have to sell out this bunch first.” So he bought them all himself. Then proceeded to go out and sell them one by one on his own. He traveled all over the country selling his books. Selling his message. He trusted the universe and had faith in himself…but he also worked really hard.

“But Deepok Chopra says to meditate and relax.” He absolutely does say that. And I agree with him. But Deepok Chopra also has a medical degree. Do you really think he did that by only meditating and sitting under a waterfall? NO. He worked his butt off in his undergraduate years and then chose to work harder after that in med school. He took care of himself, YES. But also …he worked.

“But Jon Lennon sings songs about ‘just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round ….and … longer riding on the merry-go-round” No arguments here. Except that…oh wait. Did you know he was a part of a group called the Beatles (maybe you’ve heard of them)? Did you know the Beatles only got so good at what they did because they worked incredibly hard and traveled to Europe playing for hours night after night in pubs and bars and for whomever would listen to them? Jon Lennon could afford to kick back and “no longer play the game.”He certainly earned it.

Even the Buddha, himself, traveled all over and worked furiously. Thought furiously. Was willing to fast. Wait. Think. All in order to find enlightenment. He founded a movement.Do you think he did that by only sitting quietly by himself? I don’t think so.

Are you seeing, now, where this is going?

Carpe Diem is a philosophy that I absolutely live by. Seize the day! You only live once! All these things are true. I agree 100 percent. I just don’t buy the idea that seizing the day means giving up on a dream. I don’t think seizing the day means “only ever do things that make you feel good today.” Because the way I see it, life isn’t meant to always be pleasurable. It’s meant to always be meaningful. 

I have never seen a healthy relationship where both parties were happy peppy people all the time. Well…at least I haven’t seen those relationships last. Sure, they are happy. Sure they are glad they are partners. But get them behind closed doors and they will talk to you about their hardships. Their disagreements. Their compromises. And I have never met a person that I admired and who was living a life that I wanted to emulate who somehow escaped the “hard work” part of the deal. Somewhere along the line, they made a sacrifice.

So whether you identify as being “highly sensitive” or not…if you do identify with being a hard worker…with being conscientious…and you find yourself on occasion having to defend the efforts you are putting in to those who are living a life that seems easier than yours…take heart. You’re seizing the day, too. Just in a very different way. Maybe it isn’t always easy. Maybe it isn’t always exciting or fun. But if every decision that you are making in your present is deliberate, mindful, and in accordance with your values, aspirations, and dreams…then you ARE doing it right.

YES find balance. YES enjoy yourself. YES treat yourself. YES – spend time with people you love.

NO – you should not become a slave to work. NO – money does not buy you happiness. NO – all work and no play is not a sustainable way to live.

All of these things are excellent pieces of wisdom.

In the end, I guess all I am saying is that “Carpe Diem!” is really just about rejoicing in what we have today. And believe me, I am ALL about rejoicing. But celebrating what we have today doesn’t mean we don’t also continue to move toward a dream of an even better tomorrow.